College of the Ozarks asks appeals court to halt Biden Administration order opening dorms, showers

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 4:49 PM CDT
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POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. (KY3) - Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing College of the Ozarks asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on Friday to halt a Biden administration directive that would force the private Christian college to open up its sex-specific dorms and showers.

The request for the injunction while the case proceeds comes after a district court declined to issue one and dismissed the case.

“We will not let a radical executive order or agency directive strip us of our core religious values and force us to allow members of the opposite sex to infiltrate our women’s dorms and showers,” said College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis. “This was done without any input by Congress or the public. The Biden administration overstepped the boundaries of our constitutionally protected religious freedoms.”

The College of the Ozarks filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Biden administration over a directive concerning colleges and gender identity.

“It’s entirely inappropriate — as well as unconstitutional — for the government to force private religious schools to open girls’ dorm rooms to males or vice-versa,” said ADF Senior Counsel Julie Marie Blake. “President Biden is punishing religious schools, organizations, and churches simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex. Schools like College of the Ozarks are free to follow the faith tradition they represent. That’s why we are asking the 8th Circuit to halt enforcement of this unconstitutional directive while our lawsuit proceeds.”

The lawsuit challenges a directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which forces religious schools to open dormitories, including dorm rooms and shared shower spaces, to members of the opposite sex. Lawyers for College of the Ozarks argue the administration’s rule change forces religious schools to violate their beliefs by opening up female dorms to biological males and vice-versa, or face fines of up to six figures, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

A judge recently rejected the college’s motion for an injunction and temporary restraining order. The college argues such motions would have offered “temporary protection” while the court case is pending.

The lawsuit argues the HUD directive contradicts the historical judicial interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, which confirms that “sex” means biological sex. The suit also argues that the directive exceeds the administration’s authority and violates the constitutionally protected freedom of College of the Ozarks and similar religious institutions to operate consistently with their religious beliefs.

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